We’ve seen a lot of slow websites over the years and as a result we’ve put together this quick start guide to help people better understand how to speed up WordPress and make it more secure at the same time.

#1 – Page Caching

This is something that anyone can do by adding a plugin like W3 Total Cache to their site. The reason for it is quite complex but trust us, with over 5 Million downloads and a 4.5+ star rating you can rest assured that they are doing something right.

#2 – Too Many Plugins

It’s tempting to do (we know) but as a general rule, the fewer plugins you have the better off you will be from both a security and performance point of view. We like to think of it like going to Tim hortons, you can’t get the Boston Creme every day, well if you do you are going to be kinda slow too.

#3 – Enable Gzip & Expire tags to your .htaccess file

Your server that your site is hosted on needs to support things like Nginx but assuming it does (as all good modern web hosts do) Here’s an example of what we’ve seen speed up website by as much as 200%!

# This Enables More Efficient Browser Caching
<IfModule mod_expires.c>
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresDefault “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access plus 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access plus 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access plus 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access plus 1 year”
ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 1 year”
ExpiresByType text/js “access plus 1 year”
ExpiresByType application/javascript “access plus 1 year”
ExpiresByType application/pdf “access plus 1 year”
ExpiresByType text/x-javascript “access plus 1 year”
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access plus 1 year”
Header unset ETag
</IfModule>
# Set rules for Gzip stuff and more efficient headers
<IfModule mod_deflate.c>
<IfModule mod_headers.c>
Header append Vary User-Agent env=!dont-vary
<FilesMatch “\.(js|css|xml|gz)$”>
Header append Vary: Accept-Encoding
</FilesMatch>
</IfModule>
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css text/x-component application/x-javascript application/javascript text/javascript text/x-js text/html text/richtext image/svg+xml text/plain text/xsd text/xsl text/xml image/x-icon application/json
<IfModule mod_mime.c>
# DEFLATE by extension
AddOutputFilter DEFLATE js css htm html xml
</IfModule>
# Remove browser bugs (only needed for really old browsers)
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4\.0[678] no-gzip
BrowserMatch \bMSIE !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html
</IfModule>

#4 – Use PHP 7.x (if you can)

With modern hosting platforms you should be able to switch versions of PHP with ease. We offer PHP 7.x on all of our shared hosting servers. Some clients have reported as much as a 20% reduction in page load times by making this simple change. This is how you do it with us:

Within Plesk, Navigate to your “Website & Domains” area, then click on the “PHP Settings” Icon:

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 8.45.24 AM

Then select PHP 7.x from the drop down menu and then click the “Apply” button at the bottom of the page.
Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 8.50.31 AM

#5 – Use WP Smush

This is a great little Plugin and the free version is very good! it reduces large image files that cuts down all the unnecessary data without slowing down your site.

#6 – Use CloudFlare Pro!

If you have never seen it in action CloudFlare Pro will blow you away in how well it will speed up your site (as well as protect it!). The basic version of CloudFlare is great but the pro version comes with several technologies that are designed to dramatically speed up your site. More info here.

#7 – Choose your hosting provider & products wisely

There are some very tell tale differences between cheap web hosting vs good web hosting out there. You don’t need to break the bank but you do need to choose wisely to ensure that you are getting good value for your money these days. In addition depending on how your site is used and you plan to scale there are many great hosting products suited for the job as can be seen here in this WordPress hosting comparison chart.